OK, OK, OK. I know you’ve all been desperate to hear about my weekend at All Tomorrow’s Parties, so here’s a few highlights:
Performance of the weekend – a tie between Shellac, who curated the event and performed three ferocious sets, and Cheap Trick, who showed that age is no barrier when it comes to being able to rock™, despite guitarist Rick Nielson looking like Jonathan King on day release.
Moment of the weekend – Mission Of Burma guitarist Roger Miller, hearing wrecked by Tinnitus, performing behind his amplifier, shielded from the drumkit by a sheet of Perspex and wearing industrial ear protectors, still managing to wrestle the most violent, blistering sounds from his guitar in a performance that belied the band’s near twenty-year absence from the stage.
Discovery of the weekend – the truly bizarre Danielson Familie; imagine Pixies singer Frank Black raised on a diet of nursery rhymes at the Branch Davidian compound at Waco, surrounded by dancing medical staff.
Other honourable mentions – Melt Banana, Plush, Low, Arcwelder, Consonant, Nina Nastasia, Bonnie Prince Billie.
Worst band of the weekend – The Breeders. Sad but true. If the Deal sisters are straight these days (and I hope they are), butchering their own classic repertoire with a truly shambolic, stumbling performance is a strange way of announcing your sobriety.
I still can’t figure it out, however hard I try Award – The Fall. I feel like I ought to like The Fall. I’ve tried and tried, and I probably love most bands who claim to be have been influenced by them. But I don’t. When things occasionally get interesting, when the riffs are no longer purloined directly from Nuggests-era garage tracks that no-one bought first time round, when there are brief moments of hope, you still have Mark E. Smith, officially the world’s worst singer. He comes across as the ultimate drunken bore, someone you’d walk out of a pub to avoid. At least P.W.Long, performing earlier downstairs, comes across as a violent, aggressive drunk, and is all the better for it, playing an acoustic guitar with more brute force than anyone I’ve ever seen.
Souvenirs of the weekend – One of Rick Nielson’s plectrums and a Melt Banana Frisbee, both caught after being thrown from the stage.
What? The? award – The Upper Crust are funny for about five seconds, playing LA Strip glam metal whilst dressed like Enlightenment era dandies. You get the feeling that it’s probably Faster Pussycat in disguise, but rubbish is still rubbish whether it comes in fancy dress or not.
And finally, five images that don’t sum up a fantastic weekend in any way, shape or form:
- Rick Nielson’s guitars, part 1
- Rick Nielson’s guitars, part 2
- The Danielson Familie. Suction please nurse.
- You can go to the most remote areas of the Earth, and you’ll still find Japanese tourists and their cameras. Oh, hold on, it’s our old friends Melt Banana
- Steve Albini, King of Camber Sands.